A great deal has been written and said in recent months about the decision by the Catholic community of Watervliet and Green Island to sell the properties of the former St. Patrick's parish.

It's not easy to say goodbye to a beloved home, and we understand the attachment that many have to St. Patrick's Church and all the memories it represents.

We share those feelings deeply. Generations of our faithful celebrated the most significant and sacred milestones of life at St. Patrick's, and nothing would please us more than to have seen these buildings full of people and full of life - and preserved for continued use as worship and educational space for years to come.

We do not see a realistic way for that to happen.

In 2005, the Catholic community of Watervliet and Green Island took the difficult - but necessary - step of responding to declining population by consolidating its six separate Catholic parishes into one new parish: Immaculate Heart of Mary parish.

The consolidation of six parishes required the local Catholic community to make challenging and painful decisions about all of its remaining properties, including St. Patrick's Church.

Throughout its decision-making process, Immaculate Heart of Mary parish worked toward the goal of preserving the Catholic history and traditions of the community, while exercising appropriate stewardship over the finite financial resources of the parish. It was determined that the most responsible choice was to offer the five other parishes for sale, including St. Patrick's.

As difficult and painful as this decision was, it is important to remember the facts that confronted us:

• In 2005, we hired engineers and architects to evaluate the buildings. They found substantial and ongoing deterioration, and estimated that renovations and repairs would cost at least $4 million.

• A separate analysis in 2009 produced an additional estimate of $500,000 to stabilize and repair the columns of the church.

Ultimately, the parish determined that the necessary capital investments involved in retaining the St. Patrick's campus, together with the operational, maintenance and insurance costs, were beyond the means of our parish community.

Updated studies, recently completed last month, indicate the church would need an additional $2-$3 million to repair the columns, buttresses and envelope of the church, confirming our earlier decision to offer the property for sale.

No one wants to see this beautiful but severely deteriorating church come down. But these studies demonstrate rather definitively that there is no financially viable way to do anything but find some other use for that property that would appropriately serve the needs of the parish and, at the same time, provide an economic stimulus for the City of Watervliet.

If a realistic and feasible alternative existed, why has no such proposal ever been submitted to the parish for consideration?

Although the church closed just about eight months ago, it was known for a few years that this would occur and that the property likely would be put up for sale. Over all that time, why didn't those who believe that the church can and should be put to some new use come forward with a workable proposal?

The only offers on the property came from developers who rationally studied the property and recognized that there was no financially justifiable solution for the use of this property except to take down the church and develop this as a commercial enterprise.

The church's closing brought five offers for the property, all from the private sector. All of the bidders told us the structures would have to be demolished. Nigro Companies submitted the most competitive offer, an offer in excess of the value of the property as established by an independent appraisal.

The parish committees reviewed the offer and found it acceptable, and a contract for sale was signed.

The proceeds from the sale of the properties will remain in Watervliet and Green Island for the benefit of the local Catholic community, including necessary repairs to our parish center and reduction of long-term debt related to maintaining St. Patrick's and other properties.

Many items, including wood from the pews, lights and statues from the interior of St. Patrick's Church, have been preserved in the new Immaculate Heart of Mary Church. The church organ, additional statuary and other items have been offered for sale to other parishes and religious congregations, with the proceeds going to the Watervliet-Green Island Catholic community.

In recent weeks, citizen activists have established a group they call "Citizens for St. Patrick's" and have written to the state Historic Preservation office in an attempt to list the church building on the state and national historic registers.

Tell me, have any of these critics actually read the studies that have been done regarding the condition of the building? It is hard to understand how people can question the veracity of multiple architectural and engineering studies done by reputable firms, especially when they have no other proof, evidence or studies of their own to dispute these experts - and probably haven't even read the studies themselves.

Whether other people want to face reality or not, this is something that the parishioners of Immaculate Heart of Mary have had to confront for some time in a very direct, thorough and intimate way.

They have reached this decision after much study and prayer. Those who are not members of this parish and who have not been involved with this matter over all these years should at least give these faithful people the benefit of the doubt, and let this matter proceed in the way that these parishioners now know is best for the parish and the community at large.

Every effort is made to avoid the loss of a church. But part of mature faith is accepting things as they are, not as we would have them - and, having given prayerful consideration to all alternatives, relying on the power of God to see us through.

(Father Deimeke is pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary parish in Watervliet/Green Island.)